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I'm apprehensive about asking this, because I'm very new to the site myself. However, I'm wondering if others have considered the possibility that certain badges on the site might be encouraging counterproductive behaviour.

If I'm being completely honest, this has come about because I keep seeing some really silly questions being upvoted - questions that often meet all of the criteria for downvoting (shows no research effort, unclear, not useful).

I imagine this is either because:

  • I am expecting too much of other users, or
  • that many users don't understand what votes are for, or
  • that some users are voting arbitrarily in order to gain lower-level badges.

Is this something that can be addressed at all? Has it been previously discussed, and I'm just searching in the wrong places?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give a specific example? These kinds of questions often get a bit bogged down when discussing generalities. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 28 '16 at 5:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ It also might be worth pointing out - while there are a bunch of badges that encourage voting, there is only one that specifically encourages upvoting, and I doubt the Supporter badge is to blame for this sort of thing. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 28 '16 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course, were you asking for a specific example of badge, or a specific example of a poor question? \$\endgroup\$ – Handsome Unlimited Jul 28 '16 at 5:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I meant a specific question, but it'd be good to know which badges you think are a concern, too. The more details we have, the better answers will be able to (hopefully!) address your concerns. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 28 '16 at 5:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ The pros and cons of badges are constantly being discussed on Meta.SE; that's the only place where such discussion could produce action/change. See here, for example. But I suspect "do we discuss badges?" isn't really your question, you're wondering about the behavior you saw on a particular question, or an a particular day, or from a particular user. Go ahead and ask about that--you won't offend anyone =) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jul 28 '16 at 5:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 thanks for the reference, i should have gone to meta.se to search in the first place. as for your and miniman's question, there genuinely isn't one particular user, topic or question that has raised this question from me - i'm still trying to gauge the "baseline" for how much a person should know, or should research, before they post their question. although there isn't any one particular question, as i said, i can definitely provide an example if you'd like. \$\endgroup\$ – Handsome Unlimited Jul 28 '16 at 7:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Badges? We don't need not stinking badges! (Ok, someone had to say it). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 30 '16 at 19:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Around the time you posted this meta Q there was a new mainsite Q which received a number of upvotes even from the same people who'd voted to close it. That may have seemed like strange, even objectionable, voting behavior; in that case it was because of the desire to get that user the twenty rep necessary to join chat and discuss their question and how to workshop it into Stack-appropriate form. In short, there are lots of reasons that people vote in various ways; without you specifying a particular instance you noticed there's really no way to know why you saw the end behavior you did. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jul 30 '16 at 20:39
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To address your inner concern first, yes, people often vote in peculiar ways. It's a design feature though: the site's mechanics thrive on lots of votes, so encouraging voting is something it does at every opportunity. Silly or contrarian votes being easy to cast is the necessary “evil” (not really very evil) caused by the low barrier to voting, which is low to ensure having a healthy flow of votes. Besides which, the “bad” votes will in general be swamped by the more studious, serious “good” votes. And that increases the more voting happens — and voting happens more the easier it is to do, so ironically the easier it is to cast “bad” votes, the less those “bad” votes will ultimately matter.

Voting is lifeblood, so we always want to encourage more voting rather than less. And it means we don't need to police how and why people vote (which would be a nightmare).

To address your outer concern, yes, badges are constantly being poked and criticised by SE community and staff members to make sure they're still doing useful things for the site. You won't generally see that here, because badges are hardcoded into the SE system and aren't under the control of individual Stacks like RPG.se. To see the debates around badges you have to venture over to the Meta site for all of Stack Exchange, Meta Stack Exchange (MSE).

A portion of the questions in the [badges] tag over there are questions challenging the existence or sense of particular badges; one recent example is Can we retire the Reversal badge on main sites and keep it only for meta sites?.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent, thanks. I should have been looking in meta.se! \$\endgroup\$ – Handsome Unlimited Jul 28 '16 at 7:43
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If you notice a question whose voting seems out of proportion, it may have been featured in the "Hot network questions" bar you can see to the right. Being listed there brings a lot of traffic and a lot of votes.

I've been on that list twice over the last month and the influx of votes is crazy. I'd like to think I posted solid answers, but the voting makes it look like I was posting something incredible valuable.

So yes, sometimes voting is crazy. But as long as it's up-voting, be happy and enjoy it. Your turn will come :)

In case you wonder how a question ends up on that list, there are mutiple meta discussions about it. This one might be a good start.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I actually see problematic up-votes more than downvotes. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Jul 31 '16 at 7:27

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